Ad tech firm Sticky has had a turbulent journey. After a relaunch it seems sales have picked up – the company now has a turnover of close to $7 million on a yearly basis.
Sticky is a spin-off of the eye tracking company Tobii, whose hardware is used by marketers and researchers. Tobii’s products are also used by people with disabilities, allowing them to interact with computers using just their eyes.
While Tobii’s platform requires a special headset to track eye movement, Sticky has developed products that can follow eye movement using just the webcam on your computer. The technology is not as accurate as Tobii’s, but where Tobii is used for individual people interacting with computers, Sticky tracks the watching habits of larger groups.
Sticky is clearly something of a celeb on the Swedish tech scene – the company has received close to $14 million in venture capital since its inception in 2009. As recently as a year ago, we reported that the company had received $5 million in financing.
Although no lack of venture capital, the startup life has been no walk in the park for Sticky. In 2014, founder and CEO Mathias Plank departed and the company took a hit, with its value plummeting from nearly 90 million to 36 million.
After this latest round of capital earning, Sticky has left Sweden, and now has its parent company in the US, where the majority of its employees are located. According to the company’s annual report on Bolagsverket, the move seems to have cost a considerable sum.
In 2015, Sticky reported a turnover of 524.000 dollars and a loss of $1,8 million. It is the second largest loss since its inception. A few years back, Sticky CEO Hans Lee argued that the financial statement doesn’t provide a completely accurate picture of the business.
“We don’t comment on our annual report. What I can say is that we are growing very quickly and have close customer agreements with some of the world’s largest brands. Many of them are international brands based in the US, which is why we moved our parent company,” says Mr. Lee.
Even if the official income statement is unreliable, as Mr. Lee claims, by looking at the administration report, it is clear sales have taken off.
“The company released its new product in May 2016. The initial sales have gone well and the company has about 60 clients with an average turnover of about $10,000 per month,” says Lee.
At the end of June, when the financial statements were completed, Sticky had sales at around 60 million annually. That is more than enough to cover the losses in Sweden.
Hans Lee’s response seems to indicate that despite the large increase in sales, Sticky is still operating at a loss.
“Our growth is defined by two things: innovation and capital. We have a very good team of fast innovators, but growth costs. So, our growth is ultimately defined by capital,” says Mr. Lee.
This argument is supported by Sticky’s annual report, where the company writes that it has a goal of becoming cash flow positive by the beginning of 2017. To reach this goal, additional financing may be needed to boost growth.